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Gambling council could have report finished sooner

By Josh Moon

Alabama Politica Reporter

It might not take the governor’s Advisory Council on Gaming until June after all.

During its most recent scheduled meeting on Thursday at the Alabama State House, council member and former lawmaker Bobby Timmons went on an extended rant about council’s recent decision to push its deadline for recommendations from Jan. 31 to June 30. Timmons’ rant also wound up raising a few eyebrows for an overtly racist line in which he referred to Native Americans as “red men.”

Following Timmons’ comments, council chairman Clinton Carter, who also serves as the state’s finance director, said it wasn’t “etched in stone” that the council would publish its recommendations to the legislature in June.

“It could be well before that time – in fact, I think it will be,” Carter said.

Following the meeting, Carter speculated that the council could have a list of recommendations ready for the legislature in a month to six weeks, depending on a number of factors.

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The timing of the council’s report is important because of the start of the legislature’s 2017 session, which will begin in two weeks. Several gambling bills have been pre-filed for the session and the council was set to provide guidance before lawmakers gathered to consider those bills.

Gov. Robert Bentley, after five decades of gambling fights in the state, established the council in order to hopefully provide lawmakers with some collection of information and straightforward recommendations when considering gambling legislation.

“I know it’s disappointing, but we’ve taken in a lot of information,” Carter said. “It’s not as simple as just legalizing gambling or not. There are a number of factors to consider.”

While the timing of the council’s report was the most important issue broached in Thursday’s meeting, it wasn’t the most entertaining.

In addition to Timmons’ controversial comment, in which he said “the red man shouldn’t have any more rights than the white man,” there was also a long, error-filled presentation from a Birmingham attorney and a half-dozen public comments.

It was one of those public speakers who provided the line of the day to the council: “Saying you don’t want gambling in Alabama is like saying you don’t want fire ants. It’s too late. They’re already here. You best learn to live with them.”

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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